My excellent (and virtual) friend Mumma McD recently wrote about the agony and the ecstasy of making new mum friends, and I was, like, DUDE, I hear you. It’s a fucking minefield – one that I’ve expertly navigated over the last 10 years. I’ve experienced ALL the mums, and had playdates with most of them – even the Christian ones who don’t like swearing. Christ, I’ve had playdates with VEGANS, that’s how open-minded I was to the possibility of a new mum-based friendship. I’ve written about my desperation – in the early years of motherhood – to make new friends, and how I once slipped my phone number under the door of an isolation ward in the hospital to a mum with a kid around the same age as Ben. I’ve stalked, idolised, and admired from afar almost as much as I’ve avoided, ignored and – yes – hid.
Because let me tell you something: making mum friends is hard bloody work. All the fucking small talk and niceties. The polite conversation and the “do you implement a routine for your toddler?” type questions. I can’t be arsed, which is why I gave up on making new mum friends a long time ago. I have, like, four – maybe five – and that’s quite enough, or rather it was, until I happened upon (see also: stalked) some kinda excellent mums recently, and had to take a deep breath and go okayyyyyyy let’s do this, let’s make some new friends.
This took me well out of my comfort zone. I’m a dickhead, remember, and a socially awkward one at that. I’m thin-skinned, and over-sensitive, and – yes – shy. That’s possibly why I love love love the parent friends I’ve made in Facebook land. These chicks – and a few gentlemen, too (hello, Steve and Mark!) – seem to get me, and indulge my quirks and odd behaviour. My BFF Alison, who lives – rather annoyingly – in Paris, France, messaged me a little while ago and was, like, BUD, who are all these people taking an interest in your life? Do you know them? And I was, like, “no not really, but actually yes, by which I mean, I’ve never met them, but I love them and their novel approach to parenting. They’re my people”.
But there comes a point, of course, when you have to step out of the virtual world and into REALITY. Remember that scary place? Em Rusciano reckons there should be a Tinder-style app for making mum friends, and I'm, like, FUCK YEAH. Into craft, judgement and clean language? Swipe left. Into swearing, booze and bedtime? Swipe right, bitches! I’m all for it.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, making mum friends in the real world. Yeah, so: I had a mum date this week. An ACTUAL mum date, with a mum I’d never met before, but had sorta gotten to know through Facebook and Instagram. Is that weird? It’s a bit weird. It seems weird now I’ve written it down. We engaged in some low-level chit-chat and arranged to meet – with kids – at a park midway between our homes. My friends, I was nervous. I hadn’t been on a DATE since I accidentally arranged to meet a little (as in, vertically challenged) gentleman on RSVP years and years ago. I was certainly more nervous meeting my new mum friend than I was meeting the little man. I’d say mum dating is more complicated than little-man dating, for the simple reason that you can’t break up with a mum like you can with a little man. Then again, you might have to put out with the little man because you feel sorry for him, which is certainly not the case with the mum, so that’s one thing, I suppose.
I had this on my mind as I was getting ready in the morning, which probably didn’t help my nerves, because I became fairly sure that the first thing I’d blurt out to my new mum friend would be something to do with shagging a midget. There was that, and the fact that I didn’t know what to wear, and the children wouldn’t wear what I wanted them to wear, and OH MY GOD, what if the children were shit-heads, and ruined my chances with the new mum? What if they shat in the sandpit? And then what if it was awkward, and we didn’t have anything to talk about except for things to do with pumpkin? And and and, what about the fact that I’d totally stalked her on Facebook, and knew way too much about her, so that when she mentioned her wedding anniversary, I’d blurt out the date, location and the colour of her garter, and she’d think RUN, just RUN.
Yeah, I was pretty stressed in the build-up to my mum date. I had a lot riding on this. I had this weird feeling that we had a lot in common (actually not a weird feeling at all. I knew we had a lot in common; I’d stalked the shit out of her) and I really wanted her to like me. I want everyone to like me, which you might find strange given my propensity to insult and offend. I needn’t have worried: we got along swimmingly. I think. I mean, I really liked her, and we found the same things funny, and we didn’t discuss pumpkin, not once, which I’m pretty fucking pleased about, truth be told. So yeah, I think it went well, and I’m hopeful that I may soon be able to take my mum friend tally up a notch, to a grand total of SIX.